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81
FIRST PYTHIAN ODE

And ever watchful of the public weal,
Unnumber'd witnesses around thee stand.
Then, would thy virtuous ear for ever feast 185
On the sweet melody of well-earn'd fame,
In gen'rous purposes confirm thy breast,
Nor dread expenses that will grace thy name;
But scorning sordid and unprincely gain,
Spread all thy bounteous sails, and launch into the main. 190

When in the mould'ring urn the monarch lies,
His fame in lively characters remains,
Or grav'd in monumental histories,
Or deck'd and painted in Aonian [1] strains.
Thus fresh, and fragrant, and immortal blooms 195
The virtue, Croesus, of thy gentle mind.
While fate to infamy and hatred dooms
Sicilia's tyrant,[2] scorn of human kind;
Whose ruthless bosom swell'd with cruel pride,
When in his brazen bull the broiling wretches died. 200

Him therefore nor in sweet society
The gen'rous youth conversing ever name,
Nor with the harp's delightful melody
Mingle his odious inharmonious fame.
The first, the greatest bliss on man conferr'd 205
Is in the acts of virtue to excel;
The second, to obtain their high reward,
The soul-exalting praise of doing well.
Who both these lots attains, is bless'd indeed,
Since fortune here below can give no richer meed. 210

Translated by Gilbert West.

 
  1. I. e. of the Muses.
  2. Phalaris, tyrant of Agrigentum (Girgenti), who was said to roast men alive in a bronze bull.